And what about the bowl game -- what's next? Holiday Bowl, Alamo Bowl?
Three representatives from the Alamo Bowl in the press box today, and this has been the case the last three weeks in a row. As they were leaving the press box, one of them said – "Well, I've made my decision – I made my decision three weeks ago."
The stands may have looked bare, but it didn't stop the Beavs from putting on a show during their last regular season game of 2012.
IT WAS A towering mismatch. But what did you expect? And it was still a great game to watch. Bittersweet really – the last regular game in Corvallis for guys like Markus Wheaton, Feti Unga, Jordan Poyer, Colin Kelly and Anthony Watkins.
But when those gentlemen starting getting pulled in the second half, Beaver fans got a solid glimpse of the future, and they almost certainly liked what they saw.
It wasn't just the offense that let loose the dogs of war upon Nicholls State. The Beaver defense dominated Saturday afternoon all the way down to the third stringers. While the young standouts were aplenty, two stuck out the most – linebackers Joel Skotte and Dyllon Mafi.
Skotte and Mafi kept what little energy remained in Colonel's tailback Marcus Washington at bay during the third and fourth quarters. Rosa had a beast of a sack on Nicholls QB Landry Klann in the third quarter that prevented the Colonel's from crossing the pylons for six. The result was a defensive push that saw Nicholls State go from within the Oregon State five yard line to behind the OSU ten, inevitably leading to a field goal and the Colonels only points of the day.
Mana Rosa isn't a youngster, but the fourth year junior also shined when the reserves came in. With DTs Castro Masaniai and Andrew Seumalo both graduating, OSU will be in much better shape if Rosa can step up and earn front-line playing time in 2013.
And yes, you lose Wheaton after the season culminates, but in return you get Richard Mullaney.
Mullaney (6-3,191) is a redshirt freshman who stood out to me in fall camp but saw limited gameplay during the 2012 season. He saw a fair amount of touches against the Colonels, almost exclusively in the third quarter. Keep an eye on this kid. He has hands made out of Stick-Um and provides a big physical target for a quarterback. He walked away from the game with four receptions for 40 yards and a TD.
With Wheaton graduating after a Bowl game and Brandin Cooks likely filling his shoes, look for Mullaney to come up big and make a serious bid in the starting lineup.
He is particularly valuable in the red zone, where his ability to jump and make catches in midair gives him a considerable advantage over shorter defensive backs. Both Riley and wide receiver coach Brent Brennan are high on him, and they have every reason to be.
Richie Harrington stepped in for the fourth quarter and ran a tight ship. His accuracy left a little to be desired (especially when he was hurried), but in terms of all the other measurables for a QB, he was spot on. Good power behind his throws, astute reads and good presence in the pocket. While Saturday's game is hardly a fair assessment of his ability to perform in clutch situations, he still looks like a decent prospect moving forward.